Six local high school seniors are taking free EMT education and certification at Southeast Arkansas College. Classes are also being held at the University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology at McGehee.


The classes are funded by the EMT Scholarship Program, according to a news release from the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership.


The program is provided by the ARHP’s Health Education for Local Providers Expansion Project created in 2016 with funds from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Delta Health Care Services grant.


Madelann Cash attends high school in Star City and is enrolled in the SEARK course.


“What I like about the EMT program is the hands-on instruction we are receiving,” Cash said. “Using the [simulation training] ‘dummies’ has definitely been a fun learning experience.”


Upon completing the semester long course, the students will be equipped to enter the healthcare profession, according to the release.


“Due to the vast shortage of ambulance workers in the region, the need for an increased number of well-prepared emergency response personnel is crucial in the Arkansas Delta,” Mellie Bridewell, ARHP executive director, said in the release.


“The ARHP has plans to implement additional programs like this in the local high schools that will allow students to pursue health careers that are needed in the region. ARHP member hospitals are committed to working with these students to begin to enter into health careers their senior year that will ultimately lead to jobs in our hospitals and clinics,” Bridewell said.


Before expanding to include high school seniors, the free training program was offered to firefighters across 25 departments in 12 counties. Twelve received their certification, including Kelly Reid of the Camden Fire Department, according to the release.


“The EMT program was very informative and is a great asset to Southeast Arkansas [for] educating medical responders,” Reid said. “I took the class to be able to help in a medical emergency before EMS personnel arrive. I’m now an instructor at the Arkansas Fire Training Academy at Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden.”


Seven seniors are in EMT classes at the UAM College of Technology-McGehee.


Tarra Peek of Warren High School discussed her experience.


“My favorite part about the program is we learn something each night,” Peek said. “The very first night we were CPR-certified and you never know what to expect. It’s always something interesting that you’re learning and this program will help me gain experience to get into programs I plan to attend in the future.”


Debbie Tiner, a registered nurse, is the USDA program coordinator.


“I have loved working with these high school kids and seeing the excitement they have to learn about helping people,” Tiner said . “When you see them ready to learn, you know they are going to be good at what they will be doing. With 13 students enrolled either at SEARK or UAM-McGehee, this program will be a huge asset to the communities of Southeast Arkansas,” Tiner said.


The non-profit ARHP medical facilities include Jefferson Regional Medical Center at Pine Bluff, Ashley County Medical Center at Crossett, Baptist Health-Stuttgart, Bradley County Medical Center at Warren, Chicot Memorial Medical Center at Lake Village, Dallas County Medical Center at Fordyce, Delta Memorial Hospital at Dumas, DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home, Drew Memorial Health System at Monticello and McGehee Hospital.


For details about all ARHP programs, call 870-632-7299, email arhp.communications@gmail.com or visit www.arruralhealth.org .